|Mary Katherine Rosamund Colvin|
|Died||1988 (aged 80 or 81)|
|Commands held||Women's Royal Army Corps|
|Awards||DBE, OBE, TD|
Mary Katherine Rosamund Colvin was born into a military family, one of four children and the only daughter of the Boer War veteran Lt. Col. Forrester Farnell Colvin (CBE, OBE, MC, DL; died 16 February 1936) and Isabella Katherine McClintock-Bunbury (b. 28 December 1874 — d. 30 March 1963), who married on 26 July 1894. They lived at Morleys, Shermanbury Grange, Horsham, Sussex. She was a cousin of Michael Colvin, a Conservative M.P.
Colvin travelled widely as a young woman, to South Africa and India. She joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in 1938, transferring to the Auxiliary Territorial Service when World War II commenced. She spent most of the war as a driver, then commanded a Central Ordnance Depot Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) Group at Weedon, Northamptonshire (1943–44). Immediately after the end of hostilities with Germany, she was posted to Hamburg to help oversee its transition to democracy and build up the local council and basic services such as housing. After two years of throwing herself into this work, she was awarded an OBE, but had to return to Britain to be nearer to her ailing and elderly relatives.
She supervised the transition of the ATS into the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC), including moving its officer training school to Hindhead and bringing the training closer to that of male recruits. Female recruitment was low by 1954, so she was appointed to reverse the trend; designing a popular uniform for officers was part of her strategy. After more postings to Scotland and Eastern Command, in 1957 she was appointed WRAC director, still not yet 50, and two years later was given DBE. In 1961 she went to Copenhagen as Britain's main delegate to the inaugural NATO meeting of the women's services; her international peers elected her their spokeswoman. That year she retired, after 23 years' service.
She devoted much of the next 25 years to the British Horse Society, working her way up from dressage judge to president. She hunted with the Blackmore Vale and lent her indoor riding school to the Rutland club (which did not have its own premises).
Dame Mary Colvin died in 1988, having lived out her latter decades in Rutland. She never married. Her personal papers are at the National Archives, along with those of other British military women, such as Dame Katharine Furse, Dame Rachel Crowdy, and Brigadier Dame Mary Coulshed.
The WRAC accommodation block in Hong Kong was named Colvin House in her honour. It was situated within Victoria Barracks, which was alongside the Wanchai district on the harbour side of the island. Those barracks were demolished in the late 1970s or early 1980s when the new building at HMS Tamar was completed.
- Lioness [Women's Royal Army Corps Association], 1 (1989) ·
- The Times (27 September 1988)